Dominant trends in representation of Travellers in the Irish arts as well as modern politics surrounding this minority group are complicated in Gillies MacKinnon's Trojan Eddie (1996), a coproduction of Channel 4 and the Irish Film Board. MacKinnon's film intercedes by projecting an inverted image of the Travellers as a settled people. The importance of movement and migration in Irish films, visible from the first wave of the 1970s onward, has often resulted in the projection of Traveller traits and modes onto non-Traveller characters. These films have continued a long tradition of mythologizing the nomadic Traveller, while also using these figures to reflect on the history - and possibility - of resistance to state institutions, restrictive nationalisms, and ideology. A major difference in the use of the Traveller or migratory motif occurs, though, because Trojan Eddie directly includes Traveller characters as central protagonists rather than a structuring force in absentia. This move implicitly rethinks their standard use as symbolic resistance by placing them within habituated generic situations that implicate cinema as naturalizing a capitalist perspective as the only way to view the world. Travellers, crucially to many Irish films, are marked by their mobile existence; they represent an indigenous challenge to the myth of nation, the importance of land as constituting identity, and the unthinking relationship of bourgeois prosperity to notions of citizenship. For these reasons and more, they have traditionally been the target of extreme discrimination, both by the populace and the government. In Trojan Eddie, the Traveller existence is re-situated: the central family of Travellers, the Powers, has chosen to settle into permanent homes, removing the stated reason for discrimination. Rather, here the Travellers become cyphers for a larger consideration of how the various characters are trapped and immobilized by their relationship to capitalist economies.
|Keywords:||Travellers, Ireland, Cinema, Discrimination|
Visiting Lecturer, Departments of English and Film Studies, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, USA
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